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Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit

What makes legumes such powerful foods? Well, for starters, they are absolutely loaded with fiber. Just one cup of beans delivers 14 to 20 grams of fiber. That's more fiber than the average American eats in an entire day. Adding a serving of beans to one meal most days of the week can go a long way towards helping you get the 25 to 38 grams of fiber your body needs to function at its best. That's because fiber helps to lower cholesterol by whisking cholesterol compounds out of your system. Plus, the combination of fiber and protein found in legumes helps to stabilize blood sugars so you get a steady supply of energy. What's not to love?

The problem is, Americans just don't eat enough beans and lentils. In many parts of India, lentils are a staple. In Mexico, beans are an everyday ingredient. But in the US, we tend to gravitate towards pasta, rice and potatoes as our core starches.

It's time for an upgrade. Swapping your usual for starchy side for a scoop of beans is one of the easiest ways to up the nutrient quotient of your diet. You can't beat the convenience of canned beans — they're fully cooked and ready to eat. I buy the low-sodium varieties and rinse them well to wash away as much salt as possible.

Dried lentils are another quick mealtime option. They're small and thin, so they cook up in just 20 to 30 minutes, unlike dried beans, which can take hours to cook even if they're pre-soaked. If you're not used to cooking with beans and lentils, here are some simple ways to work them into meals:

  • Heat a can of white, cannellini, or Great Northern beans with a can of diced no-salt-added tomatoes (juices included) and some Italian herbs and seasonings. Terrific with chicken or fish.
  • Heat a can of black beans with diced jalapeno, fresh or dried garlic, cumin, and chili powder for a simple Tex-Mex side.
  • Add beans to your favorite soup recipes in place of pasta. I use chickpeas in Italian wedding and extra beans in place of noodles in minestrone.
  • Top entree salads with a cup of chickpeas or other beans instead of chicken.
  • If you want to experiment with lentils, try my favorite quick weeknight dal recipe. I substitute a few handfuls of baby spinach for the fenugreek and top each bowl with crispy baked chickpeas (double legumes!) or sauteed, cubed tofu. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Please share your favorite ways to cook with beans and lentils in the comments section below!

Last Updated:4/11/2014
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Date: 08.12.2018, 00:04 / Views: 91184